Schmoke names two as business liaisons Vera Hall will handle City Council dealings

November 10, 1995|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

Moving on his pledge to make economic development a top priority for his third term, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is hiring two people to be his liaisons with the Baltimore business community.

Departing City Councilman Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham is likely to become the mayor's economic development coordinator, a new position recommended two years ago by a task force studying ways to improve the business climate.

As part of a reorganization of the city's Equal Opportunity Compliance Office, Mr. Schmoke also is shifting its chief, Lola Smith, to be his liaison with minority businesses. He said yesterday that he plans to name a lawyer to replace her.

Mr. Schmoke declined to discuss the pending appointments in detail, saying he still is working out the salaries and other matters.

If he accepts, Mr. Cunningham will be the second council member to join the Schmoke administration after defeat in the hard-fought Sept. 12 Democratic primary. The mayor has hired Vera P. Hall, who lost her bid to become City Council president to Lawrence A. Bell III, as his council liaison.

Her appointment, at an annual salary of $60,000, strained the mayor's tenuous relationship with the new council president. Mr. Bell denounced the move, saying that sending his rival to work with the council breached a pact he had with the mayor to start afresh.

Mr. Schmoke, who has promised to do more to promote business publicly, said at his victory party after Tuesday's general election that fighting crime and creating jobs will be the top goals of his third administration.

Mr. Cunningham, a two-term veteran from Northeast Baltimore, criticized the Schmoke administration early on but has been steadfastly loyal in recent years. His council colleagues, while saying they expected the mayor to hire him, mostly praised the move.

Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, who represents East Baltimore, said, "I think it would be a good hire. I always thought he might be rewarded with a job."

He said Mr. Cunningham would be well-suited for the job because of his legislative experience, his work on the redevelopment of Eastern High School by the Johns Hopkins University, and his part-time job with the Institute of Policy Studies at Hopkins.

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